The Camden New Journal has published the below letter from me regarding Camden’s failure to build family homes even in its own developments. The lack of family homes has a deleterious effect on the sustainability of schools and communities.
Camden closed St Aloysius last year and plans to close Carlton next year and more in years to come – all because, as it accepts, there aren’t enough family homes being built locally. That must change, as Camden Labour’s obsession with building tiny shoebox flats is killing communities.
CAMDEN Council last week gave itself permission to replace a large number of homes intended for families with one-beds, that aren’t fit for children, as part of its Community Investment Programme (CIP) development on Agar Grove.
This wasn’t a one-off. Since 2015 just a fifth of homes built in Camden have had three or more bedrooms, compared with half across the country.
This prioritising of one-beds, both when new homes are built and when existing homes are sub-divided, makes it harder and more expensive to raise children in the borough. This has huge consequences, especially for our schools.
Camden has already closed St Aloysius primary and is about to close Carlton primary and merge or shrink other schools: in large part because it has failed to build enough family homes to raise children locally.
The low supply of new family-sized homes also makes them more expensive, as the number of family homes on the market at any one time is very low.
This ensures that those that can afford them can also afford to send their children to private schools.
Camden already has the second-highest proportion of children attending independent schools in the country, and the lack of new family homes further reduces the proportion going to state schools.
Yet this can’t be blamed on developers. The council just gave itself permission to reduce further the number of family homes it itself is building in its own CIP.
And this isn’t a price that has to be paid to build enough homes overall, as Camden’s housing stock is growing considerably slower than across the rest of inner London.
It’s a choice, and by making our borough less family-friendly it’s killing our state schools. It is therefore imperative that Camden builds family homes of all tenures in its CIP developments, not ever more one-beds.
It must also review its planning guidance to ensure it encourages developers to build family homes rather than mostly one-beds; and, moreover, requires them to adhere to it.
Often – with the exception of a solitary Labour councillor last week – my Conservative colleague and I are the only members of the planning committee that take seriously the existing requirement for developments to prioritise two- and three-bed homes.
However the only way to keep schools viable is to build more homes of all tenures that are fit for families.